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iPlayer founder launches next big TV thing-Zeebox

Anthony Rose unveils the secret to connected TV

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The tech wizard behind Kazaa and the BBC’s iPlayer, Anthony Rose, has unveiled his long awaited next project – Zeebox.

Speaking on a panel at Mipcom last week in Cannes, Rose declared that the future of television would be based on personalised recommendation, the premise of his new venture.

“My starting proposition is that people hate choice. Either a trusted source says ‘here’s the one’… or it can be the force of overall, everyone what they’re watching – the most popular – or what specific friends are watching, or it can be a recommendation service… Everything from here on is about tweaking the balance between these propositions,” he said.

Rose says that current EPG’s have an inherent design fail which don’t factor smart recommendation based viewing suggestions.

Rose described the platform as ‘TV’s new best friend.’ “It’s not people moving away from live TV. It’s making live TV better for the next generation,” he said. The platform is expected to go live later this month and has raised $US5 million in start up funding.

Ex-EMI exec and Peoplesound founder, Ernesto Schmitt, has been named CEO. Zeebox is attempting to leverage the rise of connected TV usage as a real-time platform for social TV viewing by turning their tablets into a socially networked remote control.

The first iteration of Zeebox will be a free app for iPad followed by iPhone and Android versions which are TV guides that concurrently display what your Facebook and Twitter community is watching on TV. Those with connected TVs can flip channel straight from the app like a remote control. Users can also chat in the iPad app and send invites to share the viewing experience with friends.

Viewers will also be able to buy products advertised on TV allowing users to interact with what they are watching through clickable tag. The tagging that Zeebox is currently working on is the sugar on top of he platform, and is an automated content recognition (ACR) technology that provides meta tagging and links while TV is being broadcast. E-commerce will be the natural outcome of this feature allowing viewers to instantly buy online while they are watching.

Rose foreshadowed his interest in developing this type of platform when in Sydney earlier in the year and also hinted that there may be Australian VC backing for the project. At the time Rose warned that in the rapidly growing connected TV’ space-which will hit 6 million units in the UK alone by year end- “the device manufacturer wants to be the new gate keeper, they want revenue share, they want to control access.” Zeebox appears tobe giving some power back to the broadcaster and the viewer.

He advised broadcasters that in order to survive fragmentation, “the broadcasters and content providers must be able to control a combination of all those end destination experiences. And they need to do that to remain relevant today and keep their eyeballs.”

And while device manufacturers covet the gatekeeper role, it will be the role of the arch aggregator that consumers will most covet in their entertainment experience, he forecasts. “Who is the taste-maker is vitally important,” he posits. “The reality is that every TV produced in the next 6-9 months in a developed country is going to be a connected TV. So by 2014 the majority of TVs will be connected to the internet and if the content offerings are good they will be connected,” he said. ®

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